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Published: February 13th 2008
The ever hard working buffalo.
After Luzon, Mindoro was my next island on my way South. The ro-ro (roll-on roll-off) ferry from the city of Batangas, Luzon to Calapan, Mindoro is quite efficient. The ride is around 3 hours. The cost is around P600. The paper works needed are the bike insurance and registration. No bribing involves.
The first thing I notice on the town of Calapan is its relative cleanliness. People are also friendlier compare to Luzon. It was dark when I arrived, so I stayed overnight. There was going to be a marriage banquet on the hotel premise. Disco and ballard music blasted through midnight. Like most small town in Philippine, restaurants and shops close early. I grabbed a few sticks of barbeque chicken (just like Indonesian satay without the peanut sauce) and some other street foods for dinner.
The next day I headed to Puerto Galera. The road scenery is lush green vegetation with patches of rice field. Buffalo dotted the field. Since Luzon, I have been seeing sign for Cockpit but did not bother to investigate. I could not figure out what good a cockpit does on the ground, rather than in an airplane. My mind was slowed because of
It decided to take a bathroom brake and fertilize the soil.
the beautiful scenery. It took me a while to figure out that a cockpit is the pit where the cocks fight. And the pits are the size of small stadium. They wear stiletto knife on their rear talon. They fight to death. Like most animal matches, cock fighting is the vehicle for gambling. In some poor villages, the cock got the vitamin and medicine while the children shows sign of malnutrition.
The beaches around Puerto Galera are nice but I knew Philippine has much better beaches down South. Access to the beach is peculiar. Next to the beach hotels and shops developed haphazardly. Narrow alleyways allow only people to walk from the road to these premises. Perhaps the development retains the layout of the original fishing villages.
At Puerto Galera White beach, a vendor tried to sell me some trinkets. He was relentless for half an hour: talking, befriending, cajoling, sympathizing, shaming, begging, … After all techniques failed, he walked away angry. He should have known and I warned him. Most bike travelers don’t buy trinkets or souvenirs. There is simply no place on the luggage to carry them.
I left for Boracay island the next day.
Then continue working.
At the pace of one big island a day, I could reach Indonesia in four days. I should slow down. The ride from Puerto Galera to Roxas port was around 6 hours. I left around 6:00am and really enjoy the early morning ride, watching town and villages came alive. But by noon, I had been rained on and wind dried twice.
The ferry arrived in the town of Caticlan on the island of Panay. Boracay island is another 30 minutes north by outrigger. The port authority asked if I have a permission to bring Hercules to the island. I’ve learned from experience that when authorities asked for a paper, I showed them something, anything. I showed them my registration. He said that’s not it. I said I am just a tourist visiting for a few days. He let me on the outrigger. That was too easy. But the captain charged me P300 to bring me and Hercules onboard. Plus the bastard porters charged me P50 for loading Hercules on the outrigger.
I got more sticker shock in Boracay. The travel book mentioned that I could get a room for P500. Most places I asked wanted P1,500 ($ 37.5).
Waterfall right before Puerto Galera.
I asked a tricycle driver where I can get a cheap room. He led me to his brother’s apartment. He thought I want to stay for a month. His brother offered P15,000 a month ($ 375). I finally got it for P600 a day for 4 days. My ex-apartment in Corvallis, Oregon cost $350 a month with wifi and all utilities paid. Ok, I had nice beaches rather than gray sky to stare for a few days.
Really, Boracay is expensive, overdeveloped, and continue being developed. But the beaches are nice. White beach stretches for a few miles. The sand is white and fine. The water is warm and shallow. Diniwid beach is to the north and much quieter. I watch sunset there. On the east coast there is Bulagog beach with strong wind all day. Kite boarder stay there. The smallest distance between the east and west coast is less than half a mile at the narrowest point of the island. The island is small enough that the weather is dictated by the sea. The air is always fresh, except on the road filled with smog from tricycle. There isn’t a good garbage collection system. So, people burnt
Puerto Galera from a distance.
their garbage, adding to the smog.
You won’t need an alarm clock to wake up on an island or village in Philippine. Fighting cocks will do the job. Whoever said that cocks crow only in the morning needs to visit Philippine. Here they crows any hours of the day.
There are two kinds of restaurant in Philippine: one cooks the food after you ordered and the other precook the food and store it on a pot for your choosing. The precook food restaurant cater predominantly to Philippinos. Before you order, you lift the pot’s lid to check what kind of food inside. The routine is just like checking out what is cooking in the pot in your grandma kitchen. If it is a soup, then you can ask the waitress to scoop it up and let you see what is in the soup. Some restaurants do place the food on plates inside a glass enclosure. Then you place the order and the food is scooped into a small dish or bowl for serving. So before you order, you know the sight and the smell of the food. What remains a mystery is the food’s taste and age. Another
Puerto Galera White beach.
mystery is what happened to the carcass of the loosing cock yesterday?
Philippinos also seem to be fond of chicken feet. Everywhere I went there are roadside stall selling barbequed chicken feet on bamboo stick. Another delicacy is balut: a really indelicate egg with a un-hatch chick inside. People eat or perhaps swallow the beak, feather, feet, and all, with vinegar. I skipped those and won’t even snap a picture.
I found a great cook in Boracay. His place is by the main street, nipa hut. Like most everybody else in Boracay, he was transplanted from a different island, lured by the tourism industry. After a few meals, he started asking me what I wanted to eat for lunch or dinner the next day. So the next day, the only choices were what I chose. I had a great sampling of Philippine cuisine this way. Fish soup is really good. The taste is salty and sour. A great cook balances these tastes well. Almost like tum-yam Thai food, without the coconut milk. And the texture is very light and the color is clear. Unlike on my Latin America trip, my weight on this trip has been quite steady.
Leaving Mindoro Roxas with Ro-Ro (Roll On Roll Off) ferry.
I spent several days in Boracay. Hercules’ wheels squeak, so I fixed that. And I cleaned the drive chain. Beside that I did nothing much, just watch the sunset. Then one sunset began to looks just like the other. And I was itchy to ride again.
Tot: 2.626s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 11; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0633s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb